Shout for joy in the highest, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Look, your King, He comes to you; He Himself becomes salvation; humble and He rides on a donkey, and on a stallion, the son of a female donkey. And I will cut off a chariot from Ephraim and a horse from Jerusalem; and will be cut off a bow of battle; and He will speak peace to nations; and His dominion from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of earth. As for you, on the blood of a covenant with you, I have set free your prisoners from a cistern without water in it. Return to the fortress, prisoners of the hope; indeed today I announce, from double I will return to you!
Sometimes saviors come in strange packaging. If Lois Lane is in distress, we expect a man in a cape to fly to her rescue. If Robin is in trouble, we expect a cowled Bat-man to save him. If our nation struggles, we may look to our elected officials to bail it out. But when folks look for a Savior-King, all they get is this humble Jesus–not riding into town on a horse driven chariot, but on a little donkey.
We like our saviors to give us what we want. No doubt, many who shouted "Hosanna" ("Save us") had their own ideas of what salvation meant: Relief from government oppression, free bread, instant/ free medical treatment. Jesus offered none of these things to them during Holy Week. Now was not the time for worldly concerns, as though His main purpose was to promote only social justice.
Instead, as your Savior, Jesus gives you what you need most. Not an earthly dominion lording it over subjects, but a heavenly reign over His people, the church! Not a worldly peace between nations, but a spiritual peace between sinners and God. Jesus comes to speak the Gospel message of His peace through the forgiveness of the cross. His strong word bespeaks you righteous, every time your pastor proclaims your sins forgiven from this pulpit, or in the sacrament of Confession and Absolution!
We want our saviors to remain popular. Of course, Jesus' popularity quickly waned during Holy Week. The shouts of "Hosanna" quickly changed to shouts of "Crucify Him!" Hailed as a King this day in history, but five short days later he is convicted of the crime of being their king. Abandoned, betrayed, denied and finally forsaken, Jesus is anything but popular. He is completely alone at the end.
What Jesus did to be your Savior was neither pleasant nor attractive. Folks are not drawn naturally to the bloody cross where He died. The blood of His covenant with you is repulsive. But it was the only price that could be paid, for there is no forgiveness for you without the shedding of blood. His body given and His blood shed for you on Calvary sets you free from being prisoners to your own sin! For His covenant is for you the new testament in His blood, for the forgiveness of your sins.
We desire our saviors to be strong. The residents of Jerusalem would have liked to see Jesus on a war-chariot leading troops into battle against the hated Roman occupiers. But instead, they get Jesus who appears quite weak. He comes as a King to save them, but then is arrested, convicted, and sentenced to a death from which He can't even save Himself! Then the Savior/King dies...
God's strength is made perfect in the seeming weakness of Jesus at the cross. By His death there, He conquers death for us all. He embraces your death as His Own on the tree, and is cursed there in your place. He takes upon Himself the eternal prison of hell on the cross, to set you free from sin and its wages of death. In return, Jesus gives to you double for your death which He took. You receive life, and life in abundance! The life He gives you is eternal habitation in the paradise of heaven!
Indeed, our Savior comes in odd packaging, from this world's perspective. No super-hero cape. No powerful political office. No great financial wealth. No military might. He comes only with the righteous obedience to God's Law, to become a perfect sacrifice for sin. He comes as the mute Lamb of God led to slaughter at the cross. He comes to give up His life in His covenant of blood as your ransom price. He comes to you, in holy pomp, riding on to die--He Himself having become your salvation! Amen.
Hymns today from LSB:
#443 Hosanna Loud Hosanna music stanzas
#442 All Glory Laud and Honor music stanzas
#441 Ride On Ride On in Majesty music (LW#105, TLH #162)
#440 Jesus I Will Ponder Now music/German stanzas
Worship schedule for Peace and Our Redeemer for Holy Week:
Monday noon devotions at Our Redeemer
Tuesday noon devotions at Peace
Wednesday noon devotions at Our Redeemer
Maundy Thursday 7pm joint Divine Service with Communion in one kind at Peace
Good Friday noon Seven Words of the Cross at Our Redeemer
Good Friday 7pm Tenebrae at Peace
Saturday 7pm Easter Vigil at Our Redeemer
Easter Sunday 8:30am Divine Service with Communion at Peace breakfast to follow
11:00am Divine Service with Communion at Our Redeemer